The ethnic label Tharu is shared by more than a million people who live in Tarai, a narrow strip of land running for hundreds of miles along the Himalayan foothills where India and Nepal come together. Most Tharu live in Nepal, but smaller populations also live in adjacent areas of India. Although they share the same name, the people known as the Tharu belong to a number of communities that vary greatly in language and culture as one travels along the Tarai. The various Tharu languages belong to the great North Indian branch of the Indo-European language family, and relate to each other in the same way that the Romance languages do. Culturally, the Tharu vary, from the heavily Hinduized populations of the eastern Tarai living in mixedcaste villages, to the more “tribal” groups in the west who live in villages consisting largely of single ethnic groups, worshipping deities peculiar to their communities. When Tharu from different areas gather, they usually turn to Hindi or Nepali to communicate with one another. These languages are widely spoken by most Tarai people, Tharu and non-Tharu alike. Life for most Tharu has changed dramatically in the last 50 years because the Tarai has become the focus of the largest population shift in Nepal’s history, as hill people in the hundreds of thousands have settled in Nepal’s fertile lowlands.